I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend!
I know it’s not for a few more weeks yet, but I have always considered Memorial Day as the official unofficial kick-off to summer.
To celebrate the sunny occasion, I spent my day lounging by the pool at my apartment complex, which, I am oh so happy and excited to report, just opened up. Even though it was Titanic-Atlantic cold and was filled to the brim, sardines-in-a-can-style, with splish-splashing boys and girls, floaties and noodles (or as my cousin Alex used to call them, macaronies), beach balls and inner tubes, there was no way I was going to just sit on a lounger and watch all the fun pass me by. No siry Bob.
If you don’t know, I am part fish; there is nothing I love better than getting a little chlorinated (or laked or streamed or oceaned–although less on the oceaned one; have you ever seen Jaws? Yikes!) on a hot, sunny day! I even played a mean game of Marco-Polo with my new friends Patrick and Jimmy, two neighborhood boys who reminded me so much of T.J and Mikey, two of the main characters in the cartoon Recess, but you know, in human form. For being so young, they were actually very insightful and quite talkative. They informed me in between underwater handstands and diving for rings that they only had a week left of their third grade careers. They were sooooo excited to finally get out of Mr. Detmyer’s class–I guess Mr. Feeny he was not. They asked if I was done with school for the summer to which I replied, ” I am actually done with school forever,” to which they replied, “Really?! That’s SO AWESOME! You are SO LUCKY! ” which made me think, is it really that awesome? Am I really that lucky?
When I was Patrick and Jimmy’s age, all I had wanted to do was grow up as quick as I could so that I could finally put the homework and spelling tests and nasty cafeteria food behind me, to not have to wake up so early, to move on to bigger and better things. Gosh, come to think of it, I had that mentality just a few years ago while I was in college; graduation to the ‘real world’ couldn’t come fast enough. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVED college! I loved the freedom, the people I met, the late-night pizza runs, the classes, even my professors. Not only did I learn so much in the way of academics, but I think I ended up learning more about myself. I did appreciate my time in school, but after nearly 16 years of learning about the world around me from teachers and books and diagrams and PowerPoints, I was ready to leave and start living and applying that knowledge to my life outside of the classroom. I remember all of my teachers and professors, even my parents, telling me to savor the time I had as a child, as a student. “It’s going to go by so fast”, “The ‘real world’ sucks” and “Stay in school for as long as you can” were all examples of phrases that were often told to my comrades and I, on multiple occasions, whenever we complained about the massive amounts of studying we had to do for midterms/finals or the stacks of homework that lie scattered on our dorm room floors. Of course back then, I was ambivalent to their advice; maybe the ‘real world’ was a bit sucky for them, but it wasn’t going to be for me, as if I was going to defy the norm of nearly every working adult out there.
However, it didn’t take me long before I was eating my words, a meer few weeks after college graduation to be exact. Sure, at first it was great. I enjoyed some much-needed time off after putting in such a demanding yet successful academic career. I looked at my diploma with pride and dreamed of where it would help get me in the near future, perhaps working at an advertising agency as a big-wig marketing exec or maybe providing support and care for others as a social worker or counselor. Yes, I had the world at my finger tips, just like I had wanted for so many years. I could do anything. I could go anywhere. I had a degree.
My slight superiority complex bubble slowly started to deflate after I soon realized that my degree was not a guarantee. I was not alone in the massive sea of job-hunting individuals. Not only was I competing with my fellow graduates but I was competing against people who had years and years of experience. Yes, the economy at the time was tres terrible (even more so than it is now if you can imagine) and yes I was a spring chicken, a youngin’ when it came to the professional workplace, but I just didn’t ever realize how hard it would be. The confines of the classroom suddenly sounded really great. However, I am happy to report that after nearly two frustrating years of endless resumes and interviews and rejections, I found and landed a wonderful job which I am enjoying to no end (and am pretty good at, not to toot my horn or anything). To those of you out there who are feeling a bit frazzled and hopeless about finding your dream job, DO NOT GIVE UP. Rejection is going to happen. You will be told that you are under-qualified, over-qualified, not experienced enough. You will be tested. DO NOT GIVE UP. If I have learned anything through all of this, it is that persistence is key. I know this is going to sound cliché, and it probably is, but when one door closes, another opens. If I hadn’t encountered the many, many number of closed doors that I had along the way, I wouldn’t have been given the key to this amazing opportunity that I am lucky enough to be experiencing now.
Am I incredibly grateful for the job I have? Yes. Is living in the ‘real world’ everything that I thought it would be? It has its moments–paying bills, cleaning, cooking, early work days, late work nights, no summers off, spurts of homesickness–these things aren’t always the easiest and most fun to juggle–, but for the most part, I am enjoying every second of it. Are there times when I want to go back to when I was in third grade, a week before summer vacation, playing Marco Polo, the only care or worry I have being whether or not mom was going to make me eat her meatloaf later that night (no offense mom)? Abso-frickin-lutely. But that is life. You grow up (unless you’re Peter Pan or Wendy and can fly off to Never-Never Land…wait a second..?).
Growing up doesn’t mean however that you have to stop having fun. In fact, it is crucial that you seek fun out whenever you can. I urge you, nay, demand, that the next time you are by the pool, don’t test the waters, just cannon-ball yourself in and start up a mean round of Marco Polo.
I looked at my two new friends Patrick and Jimmy and couldn’t help but smile, not only because they had reminded me that youth is never really lost and to appreciate any opportunity you get to have fun, but also because I was kicking their butts at Marco Polo 🙂
Have an awesome day everybody!
Question of the day: Were you ever over-eager to grow up?